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Lawn care advice and treatments

Read about common types of lawn treatments, services, and procedures below:

Applying top dressing to a lawn

Time needed: 1 day.

Have you ever wondered how to apply top dressing to a lawn?

Top dressing is applied to lawns to level out any minor imperfections on the surface of a lawn and it helps to create an ideal environment for new grass seeds to germinate.

Top dressing is commonly carried out by lawn care experts during Autumn or Spring.

Many of the UK Lawn Care Association’s lawn care experts opt for organic top dressing, which is made from well-rotted garden waste and helps to get organic matter back into the soil.

The typical stages of applying top dressing are as follows:

1. Before applying top dressing

The lawn should be prepared by scarification and aeration. Scarification removes the excess thatch which sits at the surface of the soil and aeration helps to alleviate any compaction in the soil under the lawn. Scarifying and aerating the lawn helps to ensure the top dressing can be worked deep into the sward.

2. Select a top dressing

There are many types of top-dressing products available to choose from. Many of the UK Lawn Care Association‘s member companies choose organic soil conditioner top dressings to help ensure organic matter gets back into the soil.

Most top dressings are made up of a mix of sand and loam with the proportions stated, such as a 50/50 or 70/30 sand/loam mix.


3. Calculate how much top dressing is needed

This will vary depending on the size and condition of the lawn. As a rule of thumb you should allow approx 0.5 to 1m3 of top-dressing for every 100 square metres.


4. Spread the top dressing

If you choose to top-dress your lawn manually, firstly, load your wheelbarrow with the chosen top dressing mix.

Start at one end of the lawn and shovel equal portions from your wheelbarrow at regular intervals across the lawn.


5. Brush it in.

Once you have small piles of top dressing on the lawn, start to gently push it over the lawn to create a smoother surface using the back of a rake.

This stage does require a lot of care & attention – the aim of top dressing is to improve (even out) the surface of the lawn so you need to make sure you’re creating that.

It’s easy to create an even bumpier surface if you rush this part!

Once it’s all evenly distributed, switch to a stiff brush and brush the dressing into the dips of the lawn to help create a new even surface.

6. Consult a lawn care professional

There’s no denying it – the manual way of top dressing a lawn can be very labour intensive. All the loading, shovelling, pushing and brushing can take its toll on the fittest of us! This is why a better option might be to call on your local professional lawn care company. Lawn technicians can apply top dressing to your lawn using a mechanical spreader to make sure it’s applied evenly across the lawn. They can then use specialist equipment such as mechanical brushes or drag mats to ensure the top-dressing is worked evenly into the lawn, giving a perfect even lawn surface. You can search for your local independent lawn care company.



7. Watering after top dressing

Once the top dressing has been applied to the lawn, be sure to water the lawn daily during spells of dry weather.

8. Mowing

To help your grass recover after top dressing, do not mow your lawn until the grass has grown to approx. 2-3 inches (5-7cm) long.




How and when to Scarify your lawn

When growth and weather conditions allow, your lawn should be scarified to remove thatch and the matted and horizontal growth that has accumulated over time. This activity should engage the soil; grass is resilient and will soon grow back with a flourish.

Autumn is usually considered to be the best time to scarify because the lawn will have the remainder of the growing season and the whole winter to recover.  Spring is also a time when Scarification can be carried out, but consideration should be made that recovery might take longer if conditions turn hot and dry. Any over-seeding carried out at the same time might take longer to germinate due to the cooler soil temperature compared with Autumn.


Things to consider before Scarifying

The UK Lawn Care Association recommend regular scarification is carried out to your lawn to prevent excessive thatch build-up. This is because lawns with excessive thatch will not respond well to regular lawn treatments. They will also be difficult to mow and maintain for the home owner.   Your grass type, soil conditions and local environment will determine how often scarification is required, but many lawns benefit from scarifying once every two or three years whereas lawns which are more prone to the build-up of thatch may need it every year.

DIY Scarifying can be done by using your own scarifier, by hiring one from a local hire centre or by employing a local professional lawn care company. They are likely to have the best quality equipment, which will be far superior to that available to hire. As a result it will remove more thatch to give a better outcome. 

If you have plenty of time and energy there is no reason why you should not tackle the job yourself.

We advise that you are well prepared prior to starting this task as it is very labour intensive, and it is likely that you will produce a huge mountain of thatch which will need raking up and disposing of.  Most lawns will need several passes with the scarifier to get down to the base of the grass plant where the bulk of the thick thatch will be hiding.

How to Scarify your lawn
  • Start by mowing the lawn in two or three directions, lowering the mower each time to remove and collect the top growth of grass.
  • Using a heavy duty scarifier with solid tine blades, set the depth of the scarifier so that it brings up a decent amount of thatch without choking or stalling the machine. Proceed to scarify the entire lawn.  Once complete, rake up or mow to collect the arisings, this will take considerable time due to the density of the thatch.
  • Now you are ready for the second pass with the scarifier, lower the depth setting to go deeper in to the sward and travel diagonally across the lawn until you have covered the whole area. Mow up again.  Repeat this process several times in multiple directions until the thatch is removed and you can see the surface of the soil in the lawn sward.
  • Once the scarifying is complete, your lawn will look very bare. Have no fear, this is normal. The next step will be to carry out aeration using either hollow-tines or solid tines, and then to over-seed any thin or bare areas so the lawn can recover and look better than ever. 

 For information and advice regarding aeration and over seeding please follow the links to these pages.

How long will my lawn take to recover from Scarification? 

The time it takes for your lawn to recover from scarification will vary depending on the time of year, weather and the condition of the lawn when you started. If conditions remain cold or dry, the lawn will take longer to bounce back. In most cases it will take 3-4 months for the lawn sward to adequately fill in, so you will need to be patient. However, if conditions are perfect you could be mowing again in a few weeks and amazed at how good the lawn looks.  No matter what the conditions, once the regrowth has reached about 60mm in height it is time to start mowing again.


Hollow-Tine Aeration 

‘Hollow-tining’ (or core aeration) is the most widely recognised form of aeration on lawns. The tine (or spike) is just that – hollow. At the same time as spiking the ground, this machine removes small soil cores and leaves a succession of hollow puncture holes in the soil. Dependent on the maths, this method might remove 2-5% of the top of your lawn to a depth of between 50-125mm. Removing this bulky, dense material increases the percentage of air in the soil and greatly relieves surface compaction. Hollowtine aeration has many other vital benefits as well as relieving compaction, it also prunes the grass plants’ roots to stimulate new fresh growth, allows moisture and nutrient to penetrate through the surface of the soil, breaks down sub-surface thatch and creates an environment where natural bacteria is more likely to become active. Over time, this will help to break down undigested organic matter including thatch. These factors are vital for the health of your soil and, in turn, your lawn. Hollow-tine aeration can be a bit messy but most cores which are left on the surface will soon melt back into the sward within a few weeks after rain.

However, they can be raked up if you don’t want these to be trodden into the surface, paths or patios.

Hollow-tine aeration is recommended for all lawns, every year, as the benefit for the long-term health of the lawn is huge. This is why sports turf managers such as green keepers will aerate multiple times per year. Lawns which are in particularly poor condition, such as those that struggle with the control of moss and thatch or those that are on poor or heavy clay soil will require multiple aerations over a period of years to help improve the condition of the sward. Hollow-tine aeration is often carried out as part of spring or autumn lawn renovations, combined with scarification and over-seeding for optimum results.


Spiked Aeration

Spiked aeration is often carried out using the same machine as hollow-tine aeration, with the hollow-tines being replaced with spikes. Most professional lawn care companies will be able to offer a choice of tine should you prefer spiking. Spiking tends to be much cleaner than hollow-tining because it does not produce cores, however most lawn care professionals believe that hollow-tining is more effective because it allows more air into the surface of the soil and root-prunes as the core is removed. Lawns which are on very heavy clay soil may benefit more from spiking because clay cores do not break down easily and can be difficult to remove from the surface.


Fracture-Tine Aeration 

Fracture-tine aeration can be a quick, cost effective form of lawn aeration. In simple terms, a fracture-tine is a form of solid, blade-shaped tine on a reel. They are wider, longer, with the blades offset, and can reach deeper into the soil than a hollow-tine when ground conditions are soft. This makes them ideal for lawns which have low levels of thatch. The Fracture-tine blades make straight cuts in the soil, so with no cores to clear and fast ground-speed, this form of aeration will be much cheaper than Hollow-tining, while delivering different benefits. We recommend this form of aeration as an annual maintenance operation to lawns which are already in good health, or those where the aim is to improve root mass or drought tolerance.

Aeration Summary

An annual aeration should form part of an integrated programme for your lawn, rather than depending solely on chemical applications. Over time the health of your lawn will certainly improve as a result of this mechanical treatment.

To find a local reputable Professional lawn care specialist to carry out aeration search here.


Snow and Lawn Diseases

Watch out for Disease in your lawn when the snow melts !!

Fusarium Patch

This is a cool weather disease and enjoys persistent drizzle, foggy, misty and damp conditions.

Symptoms appear as small, circular, yellow patches often with a white mould around the outside, which spread up to about 30cm in diameter.  Once established, the patches turn a yellow/brown colour and in severe cases can kill the grass.  After the disease becomes inactive, the area appears pale and straw-like.

Lawns that have a high thatch layer and poor drainage, as well as enclosed lawns with little air movement, are the most susceptible to Fusarium.It is a common problem if the lawn has been covered in snow for a while.

Snow Mould

Closely related to Fusarium is Snow Mould, another cold weather disease that thrives in lawns with poor air circulation. This fungal disease spreads rapidly during cold weather, especially under a blanket of snow, when air circulation is impossible.  When snow settles on a lawn for any length of time, it incubates the disease which can only be seen once the snow has melted away.

The fungus produces white patches which, in severe cases, can turn pink; unfortunately the only way to avoid these diseases is to try and keep snow off the lawn which frankly is difficult.

Both these diseases can be treated with a special fungicide but we do recommend you have professional advice for this treatment.


Japanese Knotweed – Know the Law

Japanese Knotweed can cost you £2,500!

The Times carried a story warning homeowners to clean up their act when it comes to Japanese Knotweed! This invasive plant can cause serious damage even to concrete infrastructures including foundations, brick work, roads, forestry, agriculture and river banks and the Home Office state the maximum fine is upward of £2,500 if it’s found in your garden. 

It can be eradicated but the longer it’s left to flourish (it can grow 12 inches a day) the more treatment costs; eradication on the site of the London Olympics cost £70mn and annual costs in Britain amount to an estimated £1.25bn a year.

If you suspect you see Japanese Knotweed anywhere then please contact your local Independent Lawn Care Company for professional advice, or read this article from the government which explains the full fine system.


Autumn Lawn Tips

With Autumn very much in full swing, it is a great time to really consider how you can keep your lawn healthy during this time of year. As this tends to be slightly cooler and damper, as well as a variety of other changes occurring around us, understanding some basic tips could really make all the difference.

In our latest article, the lawn care specialists at the UKLCA have put together our top 5 autumn lawn care tips.

Why Is Autumn Lawn Care Important?

Why is there an emphasis on autumn lawn care? A great question! As we move away from the warmer summer months, our lawns will go through a large period of change. Therefore, before the winter sets in, autumn is a key season for ensuring your lawn has the best chance during the future colder months.

With some key techniques and methods it is completely possible to protect your lawn from the elements.

Our 5 Recommended Autumn Lawn Care Tips

The below tips are the most common we would recommend. However, if you are looking for more of an in depth expertise then always do contact a UKLCA member.

Mowing Your Lawn

Shorter days and dropping temperatures means that the growth of your lawn will somewhat slow due to its lack of exposure to sum and better weather. However, this does not mean that you do not need to mow your lawn, but it does mean it needs to be mowed less frequently. Before mowing ensure that your mower blades are sharp and all is in working order. Plus, adjust the height on your mower setting so that it cuts the grass higher.

Deal With Your Moss

If moss is a problem on your lawn, then you need to ensure that you take the appropriate action. A poor draining lawn, and a variety of other elements may cause lawn moss, however using a moss killer may be the way forward.

The reason there is an emphasis on lawn moss is due to the issues it can cause your longer term lawn health. Do not ignore it, and ensure you keep on-top of it.


An autumn feed is a great way in which to supply your lawn with the nutrients it needs to strengthen itself for the winter season. Before feeding your lawn or using specific treatments, it is always beneficial to speak with a lawn care specialist, as they will be able to offer more advice on what is going to be the best solution.

Clear The Lawn Of Debris & Leaves

Keeping your lawn debris free and leave free is not just a great way to improve its look, but also its health. Increased debris and leaves especially can promote pests and bugs to be more attracted to your garden area. Plus, leaves that rot can also affect the health of the grass on your lawn.

Want To Find Out More? Contact a UKLCA Member

The members of the UKLCA are experienced and dedicated professionals who can provide their expertise on a variety of lawn care treatment methods to ensure your lawn is at its best and healthiest all year round.


Winter Lawn Care

With the colder and harsher months around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about your Winter lawn care. We have done well to last till November, but soon the weather is destined to change.

To prepare for this time of year, the UKLCA has come up with key Winter lawn care tips to see you through the next few months.

Why Is Winter Lawn Care Important?

As very well publicised by us and our members, just because the colder weather is here and the garden is not used as frequently, does not mean it is a time to switch off from your lawn care.

If anything it is more important due to the changes that your lawn is going to feel over the next few months. Understanding how to best protect your lawn will only serve you well when the warmer weather arrives, you are going for that lushest green look once again.

Our Winter Lawn Care Tips

Keeping your lawn in its best condition can be tough during the winter, however, with some basic techniques you can most definitely aid the process. As always, outside of the below tips, contacting a member of the UKLCA is always a great way to ensure your lawn is in its best condition.

Our members’ knowledge of the lawn sector is second to none, meaning they can give professional advice to help you. However, in this instance, our winter lawn care tips include:

Reduce Mowing

Yes, that is right, review and reduce your lawn mowing frequency! Your lawn will only grow when the temperature does exceed 5 degrees, and chances are during the winter months this will be very rare.

So the rule would be, cut when it needs a cut, but be aware, excessive mowing during the winter could result in damage.

Rake Up The Leaves

Raking up the leaves in your garden may be seen as one of the most basic things you can do, but it does have a lot of effects.

If on the off chance the winter does provide us with some sun, we want our lawns to be exposed. Leaves block this exposure, but can also house some nasty pests which could damage the health of your lawn.

Managing weeds

Keeping on top of your weeds is a great way to preserve the health of your lawn during the colder months. Even with a slow in growth due to the colder weather, ensuring your lawn is weed-free is a must, a DIY ready to use weed control would be perfect.

Look After your Equipment

Not a direct relation to your lawn, but keeping your lawn equipment primed during the winter is a great way to prepare for when you go back into full swing. Moisture and damp can sometimes find their way into your garage or shed, which could hamper their effectiveness later on in the year.

Want To Find Out More? Contact a UKLCA Member

The members of the UKLCA are experienced and dedicated professionals who can provide their expertise on a variety of lawn care treatment methods to ensure your lawn is at its best and healthiest all year round.